Raining in Narbonne France


We didn’t know what to expect in Narbonne France as we knew very little about the city. We knew it had been a port before the river changed course and silt made it an inland city. We knew it was a medieval city at its heart and that there were ancient Roman ruins and a University. This was about it.


We climbed or rather crawled up the spiral stairs hefting the largest of our suitcases which I am sure has crept over its 50 pound airline limit (it is a good thing it separates into two parts for the return trip). The spiraling white piece in the middle is the hand-railing.


3rd floor crawl up by Terrill Welch 2014_05_21 021


I wonder about what we will discover during three-day visit. We are on the third floor of a sweet small apartment. The bathroom with its small blue tiles is separated by a white cotton curtain from the rest of the low-ceiling one room dwelling. A short kitchenette runs along part of one wall with its stoic folding table wedged into the remaining space between the bathroom and the old wooden door. The real bonus is two good-sized windows that open wide and look out onto the piazza. This and the warm ochre carpet splashed between milk-white walls combine to make for a most pleasing short-term residence.


We cautiously proceed back down the stairs to get groceries for morning. Then exhausted, eat the rest of the day’s lunch and call it an early evening.


At about 4:00 am the day is beginning in our little square in Narbonne. The Patisserie is opening up to set out its outdoor table and chairs directly out front and also in a corner of the square. The rolling up of metal storefront blinds and the rhythmic movement of a hand-trolley pulled by the storekeeper lull me back to sleep.


By seven in the morning it is raining – hard.


four am set up rained out by Terrill Welch 2014_05_21 012


I feel bad for the Patisserie as his early morning start has been a wash. Only a few students brave the wet and huddle in the doorway waiting for a break in the downpour.


waiting out the rain in Narbonne France by Terrill Welch 2014_05_21 019


I decide to go exploring but David being of the cat temperament decides to wait for drier weather. The streets are empty.


rain in streets of Narbonne France by Terrill Welch 2014_05_21 034


The late 12th century Cathedral Saint-Just et Saint-Pasteur with its flying buttresses is near so I decide to start there.

The inside is a no-photograph zone but it is so dark one almost needs a flashlight to see the aisle let alone anything on the walls. However, the courtyard is beautiful


12th century Cathedrale courtyard Narbonne by Terrill Welch 2014_05_21 043


and the roses along one of the walkways to enter the inner sanctum are not in the least put out by the rain.


roses at the Cathedrale in Narbonne France by Terrill Welch 2014_05_21 053

Walking along the corridors of the courtyard it is easy to have hundreds of years slip away and find oneself in another time, one where meditative prayer and silence are common maybe.

arches to the past by Terrill Welch 2014_05_21 083

I like to look up in places like this. It is like something remembered but just out of reach of conscious articulation. Do ever get that feeling when you go new places?

something remembered by Terrill Welch 2014_05_21 085


Having found a most appropriate frame of reference for my visit in Narbonne I head out the side exit and across the narrow street into the wet marble courtyard leading to the Narbonne Museum of Art and History. A staff person tiptoed very carefully across the glistening surface. I took to the approach to heart and followed in the same manner.


Musee d' art et d'histoire de Narbonne marble courtyard by Terrill Welch 2014_05_21 111


There is a sad-looking angel on a pottery bowl at the top of the stairs

sad angel museum stairs in Narbonne by Terrill Welch 2014_05_21 119


and I wonder what is John’s Club that can be seen out of the tall stairway windows that rattle loudly in wind from the storm outside.


John's Club paintography by Terrill Welch 2014_05_21 123


The museum offered a pass for seven sites for nine Euros or it was four Euros for just the Art Museum. On a whim I purchased the pass to the seven sites and succeeded in setting the course of discovery for our time in Narbonne.


After a lengthy exploration of the excellent permanent and special exhibition including several rooms of 17 – 18 century dishes, including some in a most stunning pale green dinning room, I am ready to see if David wants to come back again for the afternoon and so he could get his seven site pass as well of course. There were many great works to see but there was one that I knew he would love as much as me. It isn’t a large painting but rather about a middle size at 55 x 68 cm. The work is by an Italian painter Gaspare Traversi (1732-1769) and is called Mendiant accroupi or A Beggar



It is the emotion and compositional strength of this image as well as pure skill in foreshortening that had me coming back to this painting several times. Every centimeter of this canvas is in full use and allows you no room to shrink from the image. The beggar has seen us. We must respond in some way and whatever that way is he and the world will know. It is our human condition we are facing in this painting.  This image, courtesy of the Narbonne art museum and published in La Tribune de l’Art does not really fully speak to the power of this piece of course.  But it was the only image I could find to share with you.  Other than that – off to Narbonne and the art museum with you!

The weather is breaking and there is a warm glow in the jute carpeted stairway as I descend.


stairway Musee d' art et d'histoire de Narbonne by Terrill Welch 2014_05_21 125


I wonder what the ruins will be like? Well, that is the next post and we shall get to see at least some of them because one of the sites allows photographs!

If it was a rainy day and you could be in any museum in the world, what painting would you want to be standing in front of with your inquiring gaze?


© 2014 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Creative Potager – Visit with painter and photographer Terrill Welch

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

For gallery and purchase information about Terrill’s photographs and paintings go to http://terrillwelchartist.com

18 thoughts on “Raining in Narbonne France

  1. “It is the emotion and compositional strength of this image as well as pure skill in foreshortening.”

    I share your observations on this magnificent painting Terrill, and continue to marvel at your ability to capture a place, a mood and atmosphere in yet another round-up of stunning photos. Perhaps I’d like to be in front of Edvard Munch’s THE SCREAM on a day like this. Ha! Best wishes on your sustained remarkable journey.

    • Thanks Sam! s much as people like Edvard Munch’s THE SCREAM, I have come to deeply appreciate his landscape paintings. At first I was surprised by them, now I just notice and say, ahhhh there is another one.

  2. Was a wonderful way for me to start my day – reading this delightful and delicious to the eye post. Love traveling with you Terrill!

    • A pleasure to have you along Kat. You would love some of the days we have been having as we wonder around from place to place just being and enjoying – and I know that YOU don’t mind a little rain 😉

  3. I especially love the reflections in the wet street… a bonus for braving the rain!

    They ignore our building code on spiral stairs… It would never pass over here… but they are artistic. Difficult to climb with no help from a handrail not to code either. But it makes a wonderful photo!

    • Sherwin it was only in desperation that I discovered that the middle pole had been sculptured to double as a handrail. When we took our suitcase down again I we did it backwards as one would a ladder. Worked really well! We did get used to them and it is all part of the fun.

  4. How neat is this? I love your photo tours – eye candy!
    Roses here are way ahead of schedule but nearly as lush as your pics!

    • It has been unseasonably cool here I think Patricia. We are hovering somewhere between 18 and 24 degrees. Pleasant really but can be even on the cool side and require a sweater at times. I took our sweaters to the laundry cleaners today along with other items as we have no washing machine in this suite. They wanted me to wait until Saturday to pick the clothes up. When I hesitated and said these were our only sweaters then they said I should come around at 13:00 tomorrow to pick every up. So I suppose that means having a sweater is still considered necessary.

  5. As before, I’m still loving tagging along with you on your travels. Your photographs and narration are pure pleasure. My favorite photo is the one of the corridors along the courtyard, and I love what you say about it: ” It is like something remembered but just out of reach of conscious articulation.” I’ve felt that way too while traveling ancient ruins and cathedrals, like I know this from somewhere, sometime, long ago. I also was captivated my the painting of the beggar. What you say about there being no room to shrink from the image is so revealing, as if the artist knows how we all are prone to do so, but he will not let us, or let himself, perhaps.

    • I am suspicious it is a combination of both us and himself Deborah. Such honesty in that painted relationship! I am glad to hear I am not the only one who goes to knew places only to sense a memory seeping into the mix.

  6. Terrill, we are having a rainy afternoon here or I would still be outside plugging away. However, what a lucky break! Here I am seated at my table while you share your rainy day excursions with us. And I didn’t even get wet! Thank you, I’ve enjoyed the tour.

    • I figure Sandi that it is kinda nice to be someplace in the rain and not even get wet 😉 It has been unseasonably cool and wet in this part of the world this year. Not that we really notice too much because it is very similar to the weather we have at home this time of year.

  7. Terrill – I can’t begin to describe the myriad of emotions each of your photographs evoked from me as I viewed them (again and again). Thank you for sharing your European Adventure!

    • My pleasure Laurie. It is awesome for me to have so many of you come along and share as we travel. This is especially true when the only concentrated English we share is with each other for such a long period of time. It has been a real head-twister to keep changing languages so frequently. This may be more pronounced I suppose because we are for the most part away from the main tourist areas.

  8. Pingback: Bearing Witness – Refusing to Turn Away | A Walk on the Wild Side

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